[Frameworks] Daylight Spools, and 16mm activism: Anyone? (Buehler?)

Dave Tetzlaff djtet53 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 31 20:09:42 UTC 2014

> The daylight spool issue is important. I always try to remember to ask the lab to return them otherwise they keep them and sell them.

I don't know how things are in the UK or US at present, but back in the last decade when I was spooling off 400' cores onto 100' daylight loads for my students, there were several labs (can't remember which, sorry) that would send me as many 100' daylight spools as I asked for for the cost of shipping alone. The labs that processed lots of 100' loads for schools etc. always had more empty daylight spools than they wanted to store, since they always returned the processed film on those white plastic reels. I suppose (sigh) when labs have gone under, their stock of daylight spools have mostly gone into the recycling bin. But there might be a bunch in a storage locker somewhere.

It would certainly be worth contacting any and all labs that still process any significant amount of 100' loads to find out what they do with the empty daylight spools, and under what conditions they're willing to part with them.


Which brings me back to the subject of 16mm makers and teachers organizing to deal with issues related to keeping the format viable. I'm disappointed (though not at all surprised) that there has been zero response on this list to Alex Belkam's original suggestion about this, or my reply. The idea of Organizing experimental film folks may seem like herding cats, but it had to have been possible to some degree at one time at least, or else the Coops wouldn't exist, right?

The 'vibe' I'm getting from the comments in the "[Frameworks] Kodak Film Stocks to be Discontinued, Announced in December" thread is 'someone will pick up the slack of stock production when Kodak folds, so we don't have to do anything, at least not collectively.' IMHO, any such thought is painfully naive. The 16mm ship has been sinking steadily through our young century. The first big blows were the discontinuation of 7240 and Fuji stepping out of the game, and the situation just keeps getting worse every year. You can't look at the actual trends over time, and the continuing relevance of the reasons behind them, and realistically imagine things are going to level off at some point, or even slow down, more or less by themselves. You can search the Frameworks archives going back 15 years, in the endless 'film vs. video' threads, and you'll find the posts about 16mm viability and the future prospects of 16mm to overwhelmingly dominated by what has proved to be sad wishful thinking.

The time to organize is not now. It was 15 years ago, but at that point in time a little foresight would have been required. But by 2005, the need for collective action should have been obvious. Now it's screaming at the top of it's lungs, flailing it's arms and jumping up and down. Is anybody paying attention?

The daylight spool issue Nicky raises is pretty damn important, but it's just the tippy-top of a very big iceberg. Who's the youngest tech anyone can name who can fix a Bolex or Beaulieu? If you came name anyone who'll service a Filmo or K100, same question. Can you name anyone under 30 who's learning this trade? How do you imagine the knowledge and skills of Dieter, Jean-Louis, Bernie, Andrew, Dwight et. al. are going to be passed on to the next generation?

"If we don't hang together, we will surely all hand separately" - Benjamin Franklin.

Given that 'you should organize' is a fairly vague proposition, I shall suggest a possible concrete step in that direction. A 16mm maker/teacher on the full-time faculty of a well-regarded college or university (**cough**howboutRogerBeebe**cough) should try to get their institution to hold/sponsor a conference/symposium/whatever on 'The Future of 16mm Filmmaking' to which all the significant players would be invited (travel funds supplied for without institutional support), for the purpose of sharing ideas, coming up with a plan, and moving toward putting it into action. As an exemplar of such a move's utility, I would point to Dan Streible, who more or less single-handedly started the Orphan Film movement by getting symposia off the ground which pulled in enough people to start a Movement for the Cause. As a pragmatic aside, I'd note that being in on the ground floor of an academic movement is a great way to achieve tenure, or get promoted from Associate to Full.

And you won't even have to sing the chorus of 'Alice's Restaurant' to a psychologist.

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